In a new film released today, we come together with GSK, and journalist Anna Whitehouse to share inspiring stories from a community in Tanzania making huge progress in the fight against malaria.
We spent time meeting mums, midwives and community leaders in the Kigoma region to find out first-hand how TCDC – an organisation funded by Comic Relief and GSK - is equipping them with important skills to fight malaria by seeking treatment early, trusting test results and taking prescribed medication.
Our partnership with GSK aims to empower communities to take on the fight against malaria by equipping them with vital knowledge on how to prevent and treat the disease. Since TCDC received their funding two years ago, they have been working hard training hundreds of community health volunteers to spread the word in the heart of rural communities.
Tabu, is chairwoman of a community group, that support each other financially - members pay a weekly fee which goes into a pot to help the community when there is an emergency. She needed that support herself when her son died of malaria.
“My son’s name is Hamisi and he died of malaria soon after I had given birth. I would like his name to be seen here. I now have four very chatty grandchildren and I will not let this happen to them. I knock - very loudly! - on people’s doors in the village to tell them to get mosquito nets and to tell them to get tested for malaria. I tell them about Hamisi.”
Proscovia, is a mum of three and midwife. Her work in a health centre includes providing care and treatment for children with malaria and, together with her colleagues, she has been equipped with important skills around malaria prevention.
“I have seen many things in this centre. I often work on the 12-hour night shift, which is hard but good for helping those who are scared at that time. When it is hard, I often find there is still light.
"A woman I helped came in and hugged me in the clinic recently. She had lost her baby to abnormalities and I had helped her recover from sepsis after a bad c-incision wound. I thought she wasn’t going to live and I was wrong. It is in those moments that I feel so happy.”
Mkola, a mother, was seriously ill with malaria when she was been taught how to use a net by one of TCDC’s volunteer Community Change Agents. She had never used one before, as she didn’t understand their importance - but now she does.
“Things have changed. I haven’t had malaria for 2 and a half years and I make sure I sleep under a net. I am making sure my children are tucking in their nets. That has helped a lot. If we continue fighting and I continue educating my fellow women when we are together at the farm, at the well and at the river, malaria will reduce and eventually it will end.”
TCDC uses mass media, community events, small group meetings and one-to-one communication to increase awareness of malaria, and has seen more people sleeping under treated bed nets, and seeking tests and treatment early for symptoms of malaria.
Since the project began in November 2016, it has reached over 300,000 people in 1000 villages Kigoma and Geita; 340 community health workers have received training on delivering behaviour change malaria messages to the community; and more than 18,000 pregnant women and mothers are now attending antenatal care where they receive treatment to prevent malaria and, crucially, are able to recognise the signs of symptoms of malaria in young children.
But although this is incredible progress, malaria is still one of the world’s biggest killers, with a child under the age of five dying every two minutes.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to come together, through partnerships like Comic Relief and GSK, to continue the fight against malaria and make a difference in people’s lives.